Jason Downer (September 9, 1813 – September 1, 1883) was a Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
|Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court|
Fall 1864 – Spring 1867
|Appointed by||James T. Lewis|
|Preceded by||Byron Paine|
|Succeeded by||Byron Paine|
|Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge|
for the 2nd Circuit
Fall 1869 – December 31, 1869
|Appointed by||Lucius Fairchild|
|Preceded by||Arthur McArthur, Sr.|
|Succeeded by||David W. Small|
|Born||September 9, 1813|
|Died||September 1, 1883 69)(aged|
|Resting place||Forest Home Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Dartmouth College|
Downer was born in Sharon, Vermont. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1838. Downer moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin Territory, in 1842. He was one of the founders of the Milwaukee Sentinel and briefly served as its first editor before turning it over to General Rufus King. When Downer died, September 1, 1883, he left an estate worth about $250,000 (about $6,000,000 in 2019 dollars). He gave away about $150,000 to friends and institutions, and left the rest to his wife, Alcy. Alcy made a $5,000 donation to the Wisconsin Female College at Fox Lake, on the condition that they name it Downer College, in memory of her husband. The school eventually became Milwaukee-Downer College and spawned the Milwaukee-Downer Seminary. Milwaukee-Downer College was ultimately integrated into Lawrence University.
Downer was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1864 after Justice Byron Paine resigned to enlist in the American Civil War. In 1865, Downer's appointment was confirmed by a special election, and he won an 8 year term on the court, but he disliked judicial service. When Paine returned from the war, Justice Downer resigned and returned to private practice. He briefly returned to the bench in 1869 when he was appointed to fill the last few months of Arthur McArthur's term as Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge for the 2nd Circuit.